Caracol is an ancient Mayan ruins complex inside the Vaca Plateau at an altitude of 500 meters at the Maya Mountains in Cayo District, Belize, where it is one of the most important regional political centers of Maya Lowlands during the Classic Period. Caracol covers 200 sq kilometers that is much larger than the modern Belize City and supports more than twice the city's population.

The Caracol site was first recorded and archaeologically documented in 1937 by AH Anderson and a wider exploration was carried out by Linton Satterthwaite of the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania in 1950 to 1953. In the early 1980s, Paul Healy of Trent University investigated the Caracol core area, architecture, large terrace system and calculate the density of the surrounding population.

Xvlor Caracol Caracol

The Caracol Archaeological Project working since 1985 was led by Arlen F. Chase and Diane Chase from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), United States. In 2009, the team conducted a LiDAR survey using an aircraft that allowed rapid assessment of the entire site and its surroundings, mapped 200 square kilometers, and was published in May 2010.


The area was inhabited since 1200 BC, but the occupation in the epicentral region was not earlier than 650 BC and lasted no more than 950 AD. At the Early Classic (between AD 250 and 550), Caracol was tied into a vast trading network and pan-lowland systems which leads to a unified regional economy. Caracol was officially built in 331 AD by Te 'K'ab Chaak.

Caracol was originally a client country of a stronger Tikal. Tikal's influence weakened during the mid-sixth century and lost control of Naranjo which lies between two cities or 42 kilometers from each site. In 556 Tikal attacked Caracol. It prompted Yajaw Te 'K'inich II or Lord Water to counterattack in 562 and defeat Tikal's Lord Wak Chan K'awiil (Double Bird).

The conflict of the two cities is less well known today, but Tikal has declined in population and no new monuments have been built for up to 120 years. At the same time the population at Caracol increased, new constructions were built, and the site became more prosperous and cohesive.

Yajaw Te 'K'inich II left the throne to Knot Ajaw in 599 AD, but his younger brother K'an II became a throne in 618 AD to 658 AD .. Lord K'an II is described as the most successful Caracol ruler who extends the system road traffic and increased site population. Lord K'an II attacked Naranjo in 627, 628, 631 and 636 AD. The celebration of victory was held in 637 AD and dedicated the construction of the Hieroglyphic Stairway in Naranjo.

Lord K'an II commissioned more monuments than any other ruler and ushered in Caracol's 'golden age'. K'an II 'witnessed' accession to K'ahk 'Ujol K'inich II in 658 AD During the reign of K'ahk' Ujol K'inich II, Caracol was defeated by Naranjo and no further construction of the new monument.


Archaeologists have found at least 24 Stelas in Stela 1-24, 24 Altars in Altar 1-24, and 4 Ballcourt Markers in Ballcourt Marker 1-4. A Group Plaza, B Group Plaza, Barrio, the Northeast Acropolis, Culebras Residential Group, South Acropolis, Alta/Baja Vista Residential Complex, Saraguate, Retiro and Ceiba each with dozens of structures.

Caracol covers about 267 structures per square kilometer or 85% more than Tikal in Guatemala. The structure is generally located far away and the city grew into one of the largest ancient Mayan cities that spans about 177 sq kilometers with an estimated population of 120,000 to 180,000 people.

Location: Cayo District, Belize.

Routes and public transport: Flights to Matthew Spain Airport in San Ignacio City, then use the 4WD to Caracol for 52 miles in 2.5 hours. Caracol

Xvlor Caracol

Advice: Most people come with guided tours and some car rental companies forbid driving alone to the Caracol route. All individual visitors and groups travel to Caracol in the convoy departing from D'Silva Ranger Station in the Pine Ridge Mountain area at 9.30am and the convoy goes home at 2pm.

Every car has to go in and out. The convoy is accompanied by two ranger vehicles to ensure the safety of all passengers. The system was instituted after several incidents were reported from tourist vehicles several years ago, also guarding against damage and preventing accidents.

The rainy season makes many muddy roads in the forest. Camping is not permitted in Caracol, the closest accommodation is the lodges at Mountain Pine Ridge. The tour to Caracol includes lunch, but if you rent a car, take all your food and water yourself.